New Pea Ridge Connector Road now open in Santa Rosa County
Motorists in central Santa Rosa County now have another north-south route available. On Wednesday, the Board of County Commissioners hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Pea Ridge Connector Road between Milton and Pace and then opened it to traffic.
“Our county staff is expecting somewhere between the tune of 5,000 to 8,000 vehicles a day once everybody gets used to it,” said District 1 Commissioner Sam Parker in reference to the amount of traffic projected for the new road, connecting Highway 90 with Hamilton Bridge Road.
The connector, which is in Parker’s district, is the first new four-lane, divided highway in the county in three decades.
It runs parallel to and was designed to help alleviate congestion on other north-south roadways such as Woodbine Road, Chumuckla Highway, and West Spencer Field Road.
Parker says the new 2-mile stretch of roadway will go a long way toward addressing current growth and opens the door to future growth in the county.
“At the end of day, development feeds thousands of families, and our community depend on every day the construction industry, depend on growing commercial businesses,” he declared. “So, I don’t see it as a negative at all. I see it as something where this is the county’s time to step up and give infrastructure that’s commiserate with that development.”
Parker pointed out that the Santa Rosa County School Board owns property on the new Pea Ridge Connector Road and suggested that it might one day be the location of a new school. In the meantime, it will help the district with more efficient bus routes.
Already, it has proven to be a boost to public safety, according to Chief Robbie Whitfield of the Pace Fire Rescue District.
“On Monday of this week, we ran a cardiac arrest to the 5300 block of Madison Avenue. If you go down here and take a left and another right you’re on Madison Ave.,” said Whitfield, noting that his truck from the recently constructed Pea Ridge Fire Station arrived on scene surprisingly fast, twice as fast as it would have been able to using two previously available routes that were much longer.
“So, I called them and said, ‘Where were ya’ll at?’ They said, “Well, we’re gonna confess, we used the new road,” Whitfield shared, applauding their move. “To give you an example of the difference, 6.6 miles, 7.3, 3.1. So, that’s going to improve our response time for all of us. So, if our citizens are calling for help, we can get there quicker.”
In addition to four lanes of traffic, the $11 million project includes both bike lanes and sidewalks. Also, about mid-way, there’s a round-about, that will help to control speed on the roadway.
Barbara and Kermit Groat, a military veteran, live in the nearby Santa Villa neighborhood.
“We’re very happy. We’ve been watching this being built,” said Barbara Groat. “It will be faster, less traffic and we’re looking forward to getting on our bikes and riding the bike trail.”
The Pea Ridge Connector project was first identified as a need over 20 years ago and has been included in the Florida-Alabama 2045 Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP).
Commissioner Parker said this is just the beginning, “Phase one of what has been identified in that long range plan of a corridor that can truly connect Highway 90 to the northern part of our community, to at least Willard Norris Road (CR 191) that we’ve been hearing about for decades.”